Hamas may hinder Gaza ceasefire: Analysts

Ahmed Eleiba , Wednesday 16 Jul 2014

Palestinian sources in the Gaza Strip say Hamas has rejected Egypt's proposed truce because they weren't included in negotiations

Smoke rises after an Israeli missile strike hit the northern Gaza Strip, Wednesday, July 16, 2014 (Photo: AP)

The Egyptian ceasefire initiative concerning the ongoing conflict between the Israeli army and Hamas movement in the Gaza Strip is being hindered – especially by the Islamist movement.

The reaction from Palestinian factions over the truce has swung between deliberation and outright rejection.

Hamas officially informed Cairo that it has rejected the Egypt-backed proposal. However, the Islamic Jihad movement in Gaza seems to be more open to the initiative. Undersecretary-General for the Islamic Jihad Movement Ziad Al-Nakhala said the initiative needs to be developed.

Meanwhile, Palestinian sources in Gaza told Ahram Online that the reason behind Hamas' rejection of the truce was that they were not included in negotiations concerning the initiative that took place in Cairo – Egyptian authorities communicated with Tel Aviv but not with them.

Sources say Israeli and Palestinian reports show that Qatar is playing a role to abort Egypt's meditation efforts and that Hamas is rejecting cooperation with Egypt in line with the Muslim Brotherhood's defiant stance against Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi.

A Palestinian political researcher based in the Gaza Strip, Abdel-Razek Abu Gazar, told Ahram Online that there is a difference between the role Egypt has played in Gaza before and after the mass protests that took place on 30 June 2013 that led to the ouster of the Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.

Abu Gazar explains that there is a disruption in communication between Gaza and Egypt because of the close relations that exist between Palestinian factions and the Muslim Brotherhood, who ruled Egypt for one year during Morsi's tenure.

He also believes Egypt's internal affairs – after a year of battling militants, writing a constitution and electing a new president – are another crucial reason for the disconnect with Gaza.

He says that Egypt has always been a main party with a crucial role in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, to the point that Palestinians feel the issue has become a part of Egypt's internal affairs.

Abu Gazar also believes that Egypt has always been in contact with all parties when it mediates to calm the fighting – except for this time, he says, which means that Egypt needs to regain the confidence of Palestinian factions and realise they must be part of any Palestinian-Israeli agreement.

Meanwhile, Abu Gazar says that Egypt should overcome Hamas' relations with Morsi's old regime.

For now, he asserts the importance of ending the Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip, describing Israel's warning to 100,000 Palestinians to evacuate northern Gaza and its targeting of the homes of top Hamas leaders as unacceptable.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is to visit Egypt on Wednesday for talks with Egypt's El-Sisi over the proposed ceasefire initiative.

Also, Mideast Quartet envoy Tony Blair held talks with El-Sisi and Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry on his second visit to Cairo within a week to discuss the Gaza conflict.

However, such talks may be undermined due to Hamas' refusal to cooperate with Egyptian authorities.

A source speaking on the condition of anonymity told Ahram Online that the upcoming days might witness a halt in attacks from the Islamist movement.

The source adds that Al-Nakhal, leader of Islamic Jihad, and Khaled Mashaal, Hamas' leader, might be visiting Egypt for talks with El-Sisi over the truce.

Tarek Fahmy, head of the Israeli Studies Unit at the National Centre for Middle East Studies, says that Egypt's stance on Israel's military operations is marked by two characteristics.

First, Egypt is not rushing in as a mediator, which contrasts with its previous actions, even in less momentous events.

Second, Egypt's meeting with the Middle East Quartet shows its role is important and vital in mediation efforts.

Fahmy adds that the Egyptian stance in mediation is dependent on European and American support in order to ensure that all parties – including Israel and the resistance organisations, especially Hamas – aren't able to openly accuse Cairo that it is coordinating with a "terrorist" movement or supporting Abbas' government.

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